Tag Archives: heuristics

a person and a computer with doves representing peace

Intentional Intuition

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In the cognitive sciences, intuition is described as a way of processing information based on automatic, affective and personal standards, but it is not the opposite of rationality. Designers generate solutions to daily issues, which forces them to make decisions that cannot be always understood rationally. Designing for experiences is a delicate practice in a rational perspective, since the designer’s interpretation on how to trigger particular experiences can be highly influenced by intuition.

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

Multiple Choice Endowment Effect

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As soon as I saw this, I had to share. Not only is it a great example of the endowment effect, it has some important advice for all of our student readers out there.

Often, you’ll hear people say that you should “trust your instincts” when making decisions. But are first instincts always the best?

Psychological research has shown many times that no, they are often no better – any in many cases worse – than a revision or change. Despite enormous popular belief that first instincts are special, dozens of experiments have found that they are not.

a smiling woman

Believing Your Own Self Delusion

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We cover the challenges of deluded thinking a lot here at Ergonomics in Design. Part of the reason is that I am fascinated by the psychological processes that lead to deluded thinking. The other reason of course is that as human factors practitioners we need to be aware of when deluded thinking can impact performance. As you might expect, many people “airbrush” what they post on social media such as Facebook. What makes it more interesting is that we start believing our own deceptions…

a machine to score scantron forms

Student Evaluations of Teaching

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The typical student evaluations that occur in most college courses at the end of the semester are intended to be used as part of the professor’s performance appraisal. The instructions clearly state that students should not consider factors such as the contents of the course, the time classes are held, or how much they like the professor personally. And yet the validity of these instruments often falls down on the job…

a page of the dictionary seen through a lens

An Evolving Lexicon and the Meaning of Words

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I think it is a very useful practice to introduce new words into the lexicon that either describe concepts that didn’t previously exist (because of changes in technology or culture) or that streamline the discussion of concepts that were hard to describe otherwise. Engineers do a lot of both kinds, but so do cultural icons. And it is not often that engineers and pop stars have something in common. Here are a few examples I heard this week…

many 3.5" floppy disks displayed on a wall

Offloading Memory to External Information Storage

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A new study out of the University of California Santa Cruz by Benjamin Storm and Sean Stone has some important implications for human factors. Their research focuses on memory and how to enhance our ability to store and recall the growing amounts of information that we encounter in our daily lives. What they are primarily interested in are how our interaction with storage technologies can help or hurt our ability to keep track of it all.

The simple act of saving something, such as a file on a computer, may improve our memory for the information we encounter next…

red onions

Media Literacy: Protecting Users from Themselves?

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When I first read Baratunde Thurston’s column this month I was driven to post something immediately on my personal blog. Now that I have had some time to reflect upon it (which is the kind of post I like to reserve for you, dear readers), I have a few more thoughtful ideas to share.

While you were busy liking family photos and taking BuzzFeed quizzes, you may not have realized that Facebook, the social network designed by antisocial people, faced one of the most significant threats to a just and verdant world we’ve ever seen: people who think satirical news stories are real…

Big Picture Thinking

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Another fantastic example of the truism in human cognition and behavior – “it depends” – in this case brought to us by the folks at the University of Illinois. When prompted to think abstractly, too much self-focus can lead to feelings of missing out on life, which then induces regret and leads to corrective overindulgence – a finding that runs counter to much of the extant consumer psychology literature. Ravi Mehta, a professor of business administration, looked at the impact on cognition from thinking abstractly.…

three men in hazmat suits

Risk Perception, Dread, and Reality

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On today’s episode of NPR’s show The Takeaway, there was an interview of a doctor who had just come back from Liberia where he had been volunteering to help with the Ebola crisis. He had followed all of the precautions, had no symptoms, and had no worries that he was at risk. But his friends were all staying away. At least for 21 days.

After more than a month working in an Ebola treatment unit in Bong County, Liberia, Dr. Levine has come home to the United States. Dr. Levine says that he’s not too worried, but he is frustrated with the Ebola hysteria in the United States. He says that eradicating Ebola worldwide starts with increasing the focus in the worst hit areas of West Africa…

a wire figure kneeling and bowing

Cognitive Humility and Information Processing

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Cognitive Humility is a concept we never talk about in our HF/E education or training, but I think it is much more important than we realize. I am going to define it a little more specifically than either Annie Murphy Paul or David Brooks do.

Brooks, the New York Times op-ed columnist, has for the past couple of years taught a course called “Humilty” at Yale… The purpose of the course, according to its description in the catalog, is to study “traditions of modesty and humility in character building and political leadership,” and to explore “the premise that human beings are blessed with many talents but are also burdened by sinfulness, ignorance, and weakness.”…